Keeping boys' energy levels high

As we reach the mid-point of Term 2 we sometimes see an energy dip in some of our boys. Especially those in the middle of, or in pre-season for, GPS competitions and Cross Country Championships. In HPE classes teachers have been discussing the importance of nutrition and diet as an energy source for both everyday life and high-level training and games. Students have focussed wholistically on nutrition in Year 7 HPE classes while both Year 9 and 12 PE classes are studying food as an energy source for exercise. It can be seen in classes throughout the day, and after talking to students, the role a good diet has on maintaining energy levels before and after training. This also ensures that the boys have the energy they require for their schoolwork during the day.

For general health, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is an excellent resource which includes some principal recommendations to maintaining good health that students at IGS need to follow. It is important that boys begin to take responsibility for their own nutritional health, especially when it comes to having energy for each day and limiting certain food and drinks. The guidelines include:

  • Be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your needs.
    • The more active you are, the more healthy foods you will need to fuel your body!
  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day.
    • Vegetables
    • Fruit
    • Grains and cereals
    • Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes
    • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives
  • Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, and sugars.
    • Replace foods with lower fat/salt/sugar options
    • Read food labels so you know what you are eating and drinking
    • Limit intake of high sugar drinks – soft drinks, energy, and sports drinks

Of course, when IGS athletes are in the middle of competition and intense training their bodies need more sustenance to give them the energy to perform at their very best. The adolescent athlete is in a unique situation. They must meet the nutritional requirement associated with undertaking daily training and competition while ensuring they have a diet that caters to the added demands of their growth and development. To ensure that the adolescent athlete fulfils his or her potential, eating patterns should consider the needs for sporting success with the nutritional considerations for healthy growth and development. Below are some hints and tips for IGS student athletes to ensure they are prepared for training, games, and competition.

  • Athletes should be encouraged to moderate eating patterns to reflect daily exercise demands. This will often mean that larger meals and regular snacking are required to meet increased energy demands on training days.
  • Adjust carbohydrate intakes to match daily energy demands. Consider the duration and intensity of the exercise sessions to help guide intake. Carbohydrates from pasta and rice are beneficial the night before a training or competition day.
  • Both protein and carbohydrates are important for recovery after training and competition. Nutritious food choices provide a great recovery option, such as milk-based drinks, yoghurt with fruit, or a meat and salad roll. In some cases, sports foods such as Sustagen Sport may help to meet the high energy needs of the athlete in a convenient form, at the same time as providing a source of protein and carbohydrate.
  • The use of sports drinks in place of water on the sports field is not necessary and may lead to excessive caloric consumption. However, for competitive adolescent athletes, consuming sports drinks during prolonged vigorous exercise can be beneficial by providing carbohydrates, fluids, electrolytes, and proteins.

Of course, these guidelines and tips may not meet the needs of every boy at IGS. If you are unsure or would like more information on the best nutrition for you and your sport talk to your Coach, HPE teacher or staff in the Sports Department. They are always there to help you achieve performance excellence.

Duncan Mackintosh

Head of Health and Physical Education